White House says Pyongyang has transferred the remains of an unspecified number of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War to the United States.

The repatriation of remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War was one of the agreements reached between the two countries in June.
The repatriation of remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War was one of the agreements reached between the two countries in June. (Reuters Archive)

North Korea has transferred the remains of an unspecified number of soldiers killed in the Korean War to the United States, the White House said on Thursday.

The repatriation of remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War was one of the agreements reached during an unprecedented summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12. 

The US military transport plane took off from the Osan Air Base in South Korea at 5:55 am local time (2055 GMT Thursday), Yonhap news agency reported, citing a Seoul government source.

TRT World's Harry Horton meets a man who hopes to receive the remains of his grandfather.

The aircraft's destination was the Kalma airport in North Korea's eastern city of Wonsan, the agency added.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the repatriations will begin soon, but did not confirm media reports about the first transfer of some 50 sets of remains.

William Denselow joins TRT World  from Washington and explains the significance of the repatriation of the fallen soldiers.

Unclear how many sets of remains are being repatriated

The South Korean official cited by Yonhap said it was unclear how many sets of remains will be returned on Thursday.

US defence officials are expected to examine the remains in South Korea before sending them on for forensic identification in Hawaii, the agency added.

Oliver Whifield Miocic joins TRT World from Seoul for the latest developments on the repatriation of remains of US soldiers who died during the Korean War 65 years ago.

More than 35,000 Americans were killed on the Korean Peninsula during the war, out of which around 7,700 are still considered missing, including 5,300 in North Korea alone, according to the Pentagon.

Between 1990 and 2005, 229 sets of remains from the North were repatriated, but those operations were suspended when ties deteriorated over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.